Investment community to focus on inclusivity and support

Capital isn’t reaching everyone and the essential support founders need is lacking.

A programme designed to help investors to in turn help and support the business they invest in has been launched.

Mindful Investor was devised by Guy Tolhurst of alternative investment research source for financial advisers, Intelligent Partnership, after he recognised a need to establish fairer, more responsible and holistic investment practices across the UK business investment community.

The mindful Investor programme operates through key stages: assessment; report and road map.

Assessment looks at how an investor works with employees and SME owners; the report measures the investor against a set of principles and shows the investor how diverse and inclusive it is and the road map stage shows how an investor can support better health, well-being, culture and environment itself and within the business it invests in.

Tolhurst says he wants to create a “more inclusive and supportive financial ecosystem, by encouraging investors to put people and profits on an equal footing and pay more attention to the diversity and well-being of the teams they invest in”.

It is hoped the programme will drive a cultural change towards more socially responsible investment into Britain’s small and growing businesses, focusing on the benefits of financial capital to help businesses grow and the importance of emotional, intellectual and human capital to support business founders.

It is the mental health of these founders that is at the root of the programme, launched with the backing of partners such as Mental Health First Aid England, Harley Street Therapy, weare3sixty and The Self Space. Participating investment firms will receive training and support across a range of priority areas – from mental and physical health, to diversity and inclusion, communication and unconscious bias. Those who complete the annual assessment and meet the required standard will be awarded a Mindful Investor ‘kitemark’.

Guy Tolhurst said: “Entrepreneurship is in vogue, up and down the country people are starting-up or scaling-up – innovating, disrupting and having a go. It’s inspirational and long may it continue. This entrepreneurial spirit is boosting productivity and skills development, making the UK the third most popular place for start-ups in the world. But while policy intervention and innovation has tackled some of the ‘access to finance’ problems, capital isn’t reaching everyone and the essential support our founders need is lacking.

“Investors can deliver huge value and impact beyond investment, providing an unparalleled support network when done right. They and entrepreneurs alike need to be responsible with other people’s money though. Businesses aren’t slot machines, they’re a collection of people united behind an idea, vision or mission.

“With heightened expectations and little experience in the highs and lows of running a high growth business, some entrepreneurs can find themselves responsible for an investor’s cash without having had the chance to build up the skills, resilience and support network they need to succeed. This can lead to burnouts, breakdowns and eventually founders being forced out of their own brainchild.

“Through Mindful Investor we aim to create a more supportive and inclusive investment culture, by encouraging investors to pay closer attention to the wellbeing and diversity of the teams they invest in.”

Simon Blake, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England said: “More and more leaders in the commercial world are waking up to the fact that positive mental health, diverse workforces and business success go hand in hand. And the investor community should be no exception.

“Rapid change and transition in any environment can create challenges which impact our mental health – both positively and negatively. For entrepreneurs and start-ups this is their day-to-day, so it is really encouraging to see initiatives like Mindful Investor setting out standards for investment practices that put people and profit on an equal footing.

“Implementing Mental Health First Aid England training into a best-practice approach will ensure that people working in this sector are never more than one conversation away from a listening ear or a guiding hand to help them access mental health support.”

Roderick Beer, strategic relations director of the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) said: “As the UKBAA acts as the voice of the angel investment community in the UK, we strive to be responsible for fostering an inclusive and supportive investment ecosystem that embraces a real diversity of great entrepreneurs. We believe that helping our investment and advisory members to fully support their investee companies to excel is a top priority that will yield dividends for all.

“The Mindful Investor programme is a timely and valuable development tool that will help the UK’s diverse business angel and early-stage investment communities strengthen their relationships with entrepreneurs by focusing more on wellbeing and diversity. Together we can make sure that we fully support the people that are taking small business success to new heights across the whole of the UK.”

Further reading:

Regional investment growth – investors called on to narrow the investment gap

Tips on how to pitch to potential business investors

 

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